6 best practices for building an authorization flow that converts more customers

For fintech providers looking to offer a truly integrated experience, here’s what you need to know to build a transparent authorization flow and ensure successful account connections.

In the modern business landscape, it’s no secret that connectivity is king. But for your SMB customers to get the most out of a connected tech stack, they have to be willing and able to share their data and connect their financial systems to third-party providers.  

Contrary to the popular belief that SMBs are unwilling to share their data, our research shows that most are inclined to authorize access to their financials—that is, if the right conditions are met. For fintech providers looking to ensure connectivity for their SMB customers, this means optimizing your authorization flow to meet SMBs’ needs and expectations. Based on our own experience helping hundreds of fintech providers, the following best practices are designed to help you do just that. 

How to optimize your authorization flow and get customers connected

SMB customers understand the value of integrations, with 60% saying they regard integrations as a top purchase driver when selecting new software. They also understand the role their data plays in fueling that connectivity. Our research has shown that two-thirds of SMBs are willing to share data with credit suppliers when they make a borrowing application. In companies with over ten employees, this statistic increased to 90%.  

But they also value data security. Your customers need to know they’re not putting their data at risk by connecting their accounts to your application. Building an authorization flow that they intrinsically trust requires implementing the following best practices: 

1. Simplify the connection journey from the start

Driving conversion starts at the funnel, which is the series of touch points that begins when a user signs up for your product and guides them along the path to connecting their accounts. Optimizing the experience at the top of the funnel when users first hit the authorization flow is of prime importance. A welcome email prompting the user to sign up is a great start, but the real key is to make what is expected of users as clear as possible and to ask your users to connect within as few steps as possible once they arrive on your landing page or sign up for your product.

According to data based on extensive experience of optimizing authorization flows for our clients, you can boost conversion rates by 30% with a thoughtfully constructed funnel that allows your customers to connect quickly. 

Here’s what that might look like:

  • A user signs up for your application and at this point you ask them to authorize, explaining the importance of connecting their accounts in the context of your application.
  • Or you might send them an automated welcome email that includes multiple CTAs (calls-to-action), reiterating the importance of connecting their accounts, plus a clear, simple overview of the minimal steps required to connect. Once “funneled” back to your application, the user is immediately prompted to connect their accounts. This information can then be used to pre-populate any requisite onboarding forms, streamlining the process by reducing the amount of manual input. 

Keep in mind that your users starting their journey should be asked to connect their accounts in as few steps as possible for the best chance of conversion. The CTA should also be placed in a convenient and noticeable location on your page. Hard-to-find or unintuitive CTAs can decrease conversion rates. 

Learn more about optimizing the funnel

Example of a simplified connection journey

2. Get clear about the value exchange

The value exchange is how you communicate to users the value of connecting their accounts. At Codat, we have found that the most effective way to communicate the value exchange clearly is to highlight these three things:

1. The value to the customer

This can be a simple statement of how the requested data/connection will be used to improve the user’s experience. For example: 

In order to provide you with a seamless user experience, we need to collect some basic information about your company’s financials. 

If you want to go the extra mile, consider linking out to an FAQs page that provides the user with more information about the benefits of data sharing.

2. What will be done with the data they provide

Next, you will want to get into the details of how your users’ data is leveraged to power the services you provide. How you communicate this will depend on the use cases your product addresses, but you can find examples of optimal wording in our documentation.

3. What the customer needs to do 

Conclude with a simple, direct CTA that tells users what to do, with no ambiguity—for example, “Connect your [insert data source] account today!” 

Get more value exchange tips and insights. 

Example of communicating the value exchange

3. Double down on data management transparency

At every touch point, your authorization flow should reinforce the notion that your users’ data is secure. To that end, consider adding the following elements:

Require action when consenting

Include a brief description of the privacy policy and security measures in place rather than just prompting them to read the terms of use. Follow up by requiring users to acknowledge that they read and understand the policy. 

Detail how the data will be used

Communicate to users which specific data points you’re using, in which direction that data is traveling, and your policy on sharing user data with third parties. This can be included as part of the value exchange.

Use data to reinforce trust

Include statistics or customer testimonials on the page to build a narrative around secure data sharing with your product at the center.

 

Example of requiring active consent

4. Offer support and use other tools to reinforce trust

Provide support contact information

Give users the option to call, email, or submit a support request at any stage of the connectivity journey. 

Include MNDA

To seal the deal, include a mutual non-disclosure agreement. This puts you and your users on equal footing and gives them a reason to believe their data is safe with your organization. 

Earn the trust of your customers with even more ideas from our docs.

5. Streamline platform selection

During platform selection, your customers should be able to easily find the software they want to connect to. An unintuitive, clunky, or ambiguous platform selection experience can cause users to drop off, while we’ve observed that one that is well executed can yield a 30% increase in conversion. Here are some proven ideas for getting there:

Tell users what to expect

Explain that users will be redirected to a third-party website to enter their credentials and that, upon completion, they will return to your app.

Organize available integrations intuitively

It’s important for your users to understand the connection options they have. Available integrations should be grouped by category when there are multiple options so that users can easily identify which ones are relevant to them. Consider including search functionality to make the process even easier.

Provide alternative options

If a user’s platform isn’t supported, provide other paths for them to complete their connection journey. A link to upload their files is one way of doing this. 

Build a non-linear flow

If your use case requires multiple connections, the user should be able to navigate to them at any point during the platform selection process. This lets the user control the pace of their journey and choose what they want to connect to when they are ready. 

Learn more about designing a seamless platform selection experience.

6. Make connections easy to manage

Making it easy for your customers to add, remove, and update their connections over time is essential to optimizing buy-in. While this may not directly impact conversion rates, weak options for managing connections can negatively impact customer retention. Consider the following when optimizing your connection management process:

Allow users to view their live connections

A user’s live connections should be easily identifiable and communicate basic information like:

  • The name of the platform 
  • The date and time of first sync
  • The date and time of the most recent sync 
  • The user’s sync history 
  • Linked data where possible
  • Allow users to delete connections 

Users should be able to delete existing connections easily, and the method for doing so should be obvious.

Include the ability to refresh data

If your use case permits, users should be able to easily update existing connections by syncing new data, and the method for doing so should be obvious. 

Utilize metadata to streamline the process

If a user has added multiple connections, metadata can be used to help identify the appropriate one for the scenario (e.g. currency of connected bank account). 

Indicate when data is actively syncing

Show users when their data is actively syncing, either through a loading spinner or percentage counter.

Learn how to build an intuitive connection management experience

How Codat can help

At Codat, we’ve observed data-sharing flows for the hundreds of fintech providers that we support. We’ve taken this extensive experience and poured it into creating a solution that checks all the boxes for an optimized authorization journey. 

Every Codat customer gets access to Link, a core feature we host that’s pre-built to optimize conversion rates by making it easy for your customers to connect all their financial platforms in a matter of minutes. Link puts you in full control of the connectivity journey, allowing you to create a white-labeled solution complete with customized branding, logos, and icons as well as the copy that guides users throughout the experience. This makes it easy to craft a seamless visual experience for your customers while ensuring transparency throughout. 

And for best results, you can use Codat’s authorization flow SDK and embed it in your application. With our developer-friendly Embedded Link solution, you’ll benefit from pre-built code that melds best practices together with our extensive experience in building authorization flows, while seamlessly embedding it into your webpage or front-end application. 

Have more questions? We have more answers

Learn more in our practical introduction to Codat’s Portal or read our guide for developers for an introduction to Codat’s universal API. Testing our platform is easy — you can start building with Codat today with a free account.